The Queens World Film Festival

by Jon L. Denby in ,

Republished from, March 3, 2012

Thursday night marked the opening of the Queens World Film Festival at the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, Queens. Running from March 1st through March 4th, the festival will showcase about 130 international films, organized into 34 program blocks, and shown at three different theater venues across Queens. There is also a closing night party and awards ceremony at the Z-Hotel in Long Island City.

Produced by Katha and Don Cato, the festival is in its second year of running. The festival evolved from the 2010 Queens International Film Festival, which was mired in controversy after the festival’s founder, Maria Castalado, was charged with defrauding vendors, advertisers, bands, employees, and guests. Since then, it has rebounded under the Catos’ stewardship to become a big success.

Opening night was at the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria. A very modern and elegant building, it was the perfect venue for a festival of this kind. In attendance were filmmakers from around the country and world, including Lloyd Kaufman of Troma Entertainment (The Toxic Avenger series).

After opening remarks by City Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer and Deputy Commissioner John Battista of the Mayor’s Office of Film, Theatre, and Broadcasting, the films began. The first film was, interestingly enough, a film from Iran called “War Story.” Apparently banned in Iran, the film was set in the middle of a desert battlefield where two soldiers—one Iranian and the other probably Iraqi—at first try to kill one another; however, they both progressively come to see the perversion and absurdity of war.

For me the other highlights of the night included two other films, both of which offered powerful social commentary. The first was a smart little film called “Easy Street.” Set in New York, it is about an ambitious young lawyer who is seeking a position as the clerk of a prestigious Federal Judge in Manhattan. This judge, however, also has the reputation of being highly eccentric, and the job interview ends up being most bizarre for the lawyer. Things culminate when the judge gives his interviewee an ultimatum that will force him to choose between a successful law career and the woman he loves.

The other film that stood out was called “Queen.” Actor Adam Rose, who directed and starred in the film, plays a drag queen cabaret star whose plans to adopt a child fall apart when the adoption agency disqualifies her because of her homosexual “lifestyle.” She enlists the help of the cabaret’s bouncer in a ploy to convince the agency to reconsider.

After the films, it was time to party. The official after-party of the festival was held just down the street at Studio Bar. With a wristband all festival attendees were entitled to $5.00 drinks at the bar. It was a great opportunity to network, discuss film, and make new friends. This Sunday, around 8:00pm, a similar scene will play out at the Z-Hotel at 11-01 43rd Avenue, Long Island City. Don’t miss it.

For travelers and lovers of film, the Queens World Film Festival has a lot to offer. If you are in New York for the weekend, the festival is a perfect opportunity to soak up some culture, meet filmmakers, and have a drink or two at a hot party.

The films continue until tomorrow evening. For the full schedule and to purchase tickets, go to the festival’s website at

The Queens World Film Festival

Festival Venues:

Jackson Heights Cinema

40-31 82nd Street, Jackson Heights. 7 Train to 82nd Street – Jackson Heights stop

Renaissance Charter School. 

35-59 81 Street, Jackson Heights. 7 Train to 82nd Street – Jackson Heights stop 

PS 69

77-02 37 Avenue, Jackson Heights. 7 Train to 74 Street – Broadway or 7 Train to 82nd Street – Jackson Heights stop

Z – Hotel (For the closing night party, beginning 8pm)

11-01 43rd Avenue, Long Island City. F Train to 21st Street – Queensbridge stop or 7, N, Q to Queensboro Plaza stop